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Auth0 Integrates Identity Into Authentication – Interview

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fingerprintAuth0, a platform for modern identity authentication, recently announced its Series A funding to help augment the firm’s current team of approximately 50 people who support its growing subscriber base. The company has seen revenue growth of 20-30% month-over-month for the past year.

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The company strives to make it easy for developers to implement even the most complex authentication and authorization solutions for its web, mobile and internal applications, APIs, and IoT devices.

Among Auth0’s clients are JetPrivilege, HarperCollins Publishing, Schneider Electric, Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection and Time Warner’s TMZ. For Auth0 CEO Jon Gelsey, identity is the new firewall.

“In a world where virtually every device and application either already does or aspires to connect to the Internet and to other devices and applications, the old paradigm of a firewall providing data protection at the perimeter no longer works,” Gelsey told Hacked.

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“There is no perimeter because devices are connected everywhere. Instead, the best practice today is for every application, API and IoT device to assume it’s in a hostile environment and to handle its own security.” For Auth0, security starts with strong identity.

“If you are absolutely certain of the identity of a person or machine accessing your data or imputing commands, such as ‘turn the AC on in the house at 4pm’ or ‘show me my infant’s sleeping patterns’, by definition you’ve stopped hackers,” Gelsey said.

“‘Absolute certainty’ is a difficult bar to reach, though, so the goal is to be as certain as possible regarding identity,” he added.

To achieve this, one must always employ the best practices for authenticating and authorizing users with multiple factors of authentication, as well as being up to date on the latest vulnerabilities.

“That means employing best practices for authenticating and authorizing users, using multiple factors of authentication, and being always up to date on the latest vulnerabilities,” he added.

With Auth0, developers don’t need deep vertical experience across authorization, authentication, identity management and security applications. They can quickly secure applications and APIs by adding just a few lines of code, provided by Auth0, regardless of the complexity of the identity environment.

“We make it easy for developers building IoT connected applications to implement strong identity security as an important first step to ensuring user protection and ultimately a great user experience for their product,” Gelsey said. Coverage of the Internet of Things often highlights the negative possibilities for the technology. Gelsey is excited about the positives.

“The coolest part of IoT is that I can virtualize expensive smarts – say, the CPU capacity to run sophisticated machine learning code on a multi-petabyte database – from the IoT device into the cloud, where it can be a shared resource and hence much cheaper,” Gelsey told Hacked. “While an unconnected device – say a thermostat – is fairly dumb when unconnected, it can be very smart when connected and without the cost going up materially.” This means we can all have very smart devices that make our lives easier.

Also read: Risky Business: the Internet of Things (IoT)

“Because the IoT devices can communicate, they can figure out more about their environment and do smarter and more convenient things because they have better data – data that would have been too expensive to collect before,” Gelsey reasoned. “For example, my car can automatically brake because it is told by a car ten cars ahead of me that it had to brake. This saves me from slamming on the brakes at the last second, therefore making driving safer.” Gelsey sees the IoT everywhere he looks, including in entertainment new and old.

“The concept of devices and apps connecting with one another is certainly not new – the Jetsons are maybe an obvious, earlier example of this,” Gelsey recalls. “More recently we can see instances in almost every TV show and movie that’s made today. Fox’s Fringe showcased an alternate universe with technology slightly more advanced than our own, and crime shows like CBS’s CSI regularly feature technology that isn’t yet available to most real law enforcement agencies.” Tiny voice and touch-activated wearable smartphones and helicopters that run solely on autopilot are not where IoT ends for Gelsey.

“I like the various bots in Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves – each one fairly stupid on its own, but when all work together they become enormously valuable contributors to saving the human race,” he told Hacked. Gelsey believes that IoT will particularly change the lives of developers.

“The biggest change will be thinking about how to take advantage of all this really cool, really cheap sensor data and how humans can interact with devices without traditional UX’s like keyboards, screens, and so on,” he predicted. “As well as, of course, spurring new product and service ideas that billion-dollar new companies will be built upon.” In Gelsey’s opinion, developers will have to be careful when navigating new frontiers.

“To borrow words from the recent movie, Jurassic World, ‘The park needs a new attraction every few years to reinvigorate the public’s interest, kind of like the space program. Corporate felt genetic modification would up the ‘wow’ factor,’” Gelsey paraphrased.

auth0-imrpoved-authentication“If you’re not familiar with the premise of the movie, they’re talking about having ‘built’ a genetically modified dinosaur – one who was bigger, scarier and more dangerous than any dinosaur that ever existed in nature – in order to satisfy the ever-growing demands of the park audience. The concept – not as extreme, of course – can be applied to the demand for IoT connectivity today.” That developers are under pressure to build new and exciting things and get them to market quickly leads many to cut corners on security.

“With the prevalence of recent high-profile hacks, and the even more recent Jeep hacking experiment, it’s clear that developers are sometimes taking shortcuts in security to ship faster,” Gelsey observed. “The challenge here will be to ship fast without sacrificing security.” And that’s where Auth0 comes in

“By simplifying identity within an enterprise – something Auth0 can help developers do in days or weeks instead of months – developers can more easily identify and secure those areas that would have been most vulnerable,” he said. For Gelsey, it’s like Adam Smith’s “comparative advantage” in Wealth of Nations.

“Why try to grow wine grapes in Ecuador when you can grow pineapples more easily, and then trade those pineapples?” he said. “You get paid more for your core competencies, so why spend time and lose money doing something that’s not a core competency?” Auth0 strives to keep clients out of the authentication business, so their clients can focus on their business’ true value.

“Authentication is complex and, if done incorrectly, has big security costs, so unless your business is to be an authentication and authorization provider, why would it ever be worth your time to do it yourself?” Authentication has changed in the past ten years.

“Authentication has grown much more complex because there are many more sources of identity now than there were ten years ago,” Gelsey told Hacked. “And the hacking community has become much more sophisticated, especially with the advent of state-sponsored cyberattacks.” There are many advantages for nation-states to enter the hacking game.

“Many countries have recognized that cyber warfare is a less expensive and less risky way to accomplish national aims that previously were only achievable through military force,” Gelsey said.

“And, of course, criminal hacking gangs have seen what nation-states can accomplish and are actively working to emulate them. Strong identity security is the first step in defending against sophisticated attacks.” Auth0 recently launched Auth0 Europe. The company chose this direction for a simple reason: to meet demand.

“The EU has different privacy and data protection regulations than the US, and countries like Germany have further augmented EU rules,” Gelsey told Hacked. “While we have always been fully compliant with the regulations of every country we do business in, it provided additional peace-of-mind for European customers to know their version of Auth0 was inside EU and even German borders.” For the modern entrepreneur, Gelsey stressed, authentication is critical.

“If people can’t login to your web or mobile app, API or IoT device, they can’t do anything else,” he said. “And on the enterprise side, if employees can’t access the systems and data they need to do their jobs, you don’t have a business.” For Gelsey, authentication and authorization are the very first building blocks you need to start a business.

“Aside from the basic ability to login, you’ll also want to know who’s accessing your product or stored data,” the CEO said. “Without being able to measure and understand customer behavior you can’t hope to build and maintain a product that will survive to meet customer demands.”

Once a business implements authentication, the work is just beginning. That company will need to maintain proper authentication and authorization amid ever-changing technology and security protocols, a challenging and time consuming, endeavor. Amid the change, What trends should developers keep their eyes on?

“The megatrend, of course, is that apps and APIs are assembled, not written,” Gelsey said. “That’s a bit of hyperbole because there is a lot of skilled software engineering being done every day, but the advent of cloud infrastructure services means those developers can ‘stand on the shoulders of giants’ and build more amazing things incredibly quickly.” Gelsey believes in the future strong identity security becomes simpler.

“In the same way that no one today thinks about networking for their app – because it’s a given that an IP connection is ‘just there’ – we see a not-so-distant future where authentication is ‘just there.’ Developers will no longer have to worry about identity and security for their applications, API’s, and IoT devices.”

Images from Shutterstock and author.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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5 stars on average, based on 1 rated postsJustin O'Connell is the founder of financial technology focused CryptographicAsset.com. Justin organized the launch of the largest Bitcoin ATM hardware and software provider in the world at the historical Hotel del Coronado in southern California. His works appear in the U.S.'s third largest weekly, the San Diego Reader, VICE and elsewhere.




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Walmart’s Flipkart Deal: The Dawn of a New Day in India

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It’s the dawn of a new day in India, particularly cross-border investment, thanks to Walmart’s groundbreaking controlling stake in Bengaluru-based e-commerce darling Flipkart. Walmart has tried for years to no avail to enter the South Asian country, until now.

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As a result of the deal, Walmart now has five seats on the online retailer’s board and is poised to play an influential role on the direction of the company — including a possible Flipkart IPO — setting the tone for further investments into the region in the interim.

It’s $16 billion deal values Flipkart at a whopping $21 billion and helps the Arkansas-based big-box retailer to compete more fiercely with Amazon, considering that the integration goes smoothly. Walmart has chosen a controversial target company to kick things off. Flipkart has been at the center of a saga ironically surrounding a previous cross-border investment.

Amazon is fighting back, however, as evidenced by it reaching into the belly of western India including Gujarat’s Bhuj, where some residents don’t even have online access. Amazon is taking an Etsy-like approach there with a focus on handmake craft items that are unique to this corner of the world.

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No doubt corporations around the world have it on their radar as a possible harbinger of more cross-border investment activity to unfold in the region.

Gopal Jain of Mumbai-based private equity firm Gaja Capital told The Financial Times: “India continues to be perceived in global boardrooms as a tough place to do business in.” But he also said that as a result of this deal, global executives have gone from “being on the heels to being on the toes.”

India’s Cross-Border Investment

The overhaul of India’s international investment has been two decades in the making. And while India Prime Minister Narendra Modi says his administration has opened the doors to foreign investment, there still hasn’t been much evidence of that. For instance, cross-border M&A into India totaled $14.5 billion last year, lagging the performance of other developing countries including Brazil and China by as much as 50%, as per Dealogic data cited in the FT.

Indeed, the last time that a deal of anything close to the size of Walmart’s Flipkart acquisition was more than a decade ago in the telecom space when Vodafone took a majority position in Hutchison Essar. That deal left a sour taste in the mouths of would-be pursuers given hostile tax environment in which Vodafone was forced to operate.

Prime Minister Modi has the opportunity to prove to the rest of the world that India indeed is open for investment. If the Walmart deal can somehow help to shake the stigma that is attached to foreign investment into India, as evidenced by the “tax terrorism” that’s been attached with the region, it, in fact, could reflect the dawn of a new day for cross-border M&A in India.

Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.4 stars on average, based on 7 rated postsGerelyn has been covering ICOs and the cryptocurrency market since mid-2017. She's also reported on fintech more broadly in addition to asset management, having previously specialized in institutional investing. Full disclosure, she's invested in bitcoin.




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Netflix Shares Surge After Hours amid Record Growth in Subscriptions

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Netlix Inc. (NFLX) has proved it can raise prices and still attract a record number of new users. The Los Gatos, California-based streaming service added 7.41 million customers in the first quarter, smashing analysts’ forecasts by about 1.7 million.

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Netflix Earnings

In addition to adding a record number of subscribers, Netflix posted per-share earnings of 64 cents on revenue of $3.7 billion. Analysts in a consensus estimate called for earnings of 64 cents per share on sales of $3.69 billion.

International streaming dominated subscription growth with a net gain of 5.46 million new users. Europe and Latin America were largely responsible for the better than expected growth. U.S. additions totaled 1.96 million.

Netflix succeeded in adding new subscribers even as it hiked the price of its streaming service, a sign the company was delivering desirable content. In addition tot he 700 titles planned for release this year, the company is investing billions into original content. Moving to in-house production will allow Netflix to save money by avoiding hefty markups charged by rival studios.

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After falling 1.2% on Monday, share prices spiked 5.2% in after-hours trading. At $323.70 per share, the company should surpass $140 billion in market cap at the start of trading on Tuesday. That’s a 600% increase since 2014.

Share prices are recovering after a difficult stretch for so-called FAANG stocks, an abbreviation that represents Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google-parent Alphabet. FAANG investments lost more than $320 billion over a three-week stretch ending Apr. 2.

At the close:

Dominance of Over-the-Top Content

Netfix has established a dominant position in the market for over-the-top content, or OTT, which generally refers to internet-based streaming services. Cord cutters in the U.S. market alone topped 22 million between 2016 and 2017, bringing the total number of consumers without pay TV to about 57 million.

High-speed internet is not only disrupting traditional media, it is destroying it. This extends far beyond the entertainment segment to also include broadcast news and other mainstream media outlets.

OTT content could be worth $62 billion by 2020, putting companies like Netflix at the top of the heap for investors looking for promising plays during the tail end of the bull market.

The success of Netflix has spawned several paid and free alternatives, including emerging juggernauts like Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and Sling TV. Traditional media companies like HBO have also adopted the subscription streaming model.

As cord-cutting continues, price elasticity of demand could grow for streaming services. In other words, companies can charge more for their service without fear of lost revenue. That was certainly the case with Netflix during the past quarter.

 

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.5 stars on average, based on 417 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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Revolut: Apps For Cryptocurrencies

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For the last few months, it seems like we have been transfixed in the collapse of crypto prices, trying to figure out what is going to cause the next move up.  The answer is not easy to find. So I thought it might be an interesting change of pace to look at a fintech company that is participating in the crypto movement but has a few other cool things going as well.

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This may not fatten your investment account immediately but it should take your mind off bitcoin for a few minutes.  After that, who knows.

Big Valuation

Revolut is a UK based payments company in business since July 2015.  Last summer Revolut founders Nikolay Storonsky and Vlad Yatsenko raised over $66 million in VC funding and another $23 million from crowdfunding.  Yes, the Crypto buzz had something to do with their success. But there is quite a bit more.

Storonsky must be pretty good with a pitch deck considering the implied $200-$400 million valuation of the company.  He and his partner have deep experience in the global payments business. Nikolay spent years as a currency trader with Credit Suisse so he understands the absurd level of fees charged by the current system.

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The technical wizardry, however, rests with his partner Yatsenko. Vlad spent over ten years building financial systems for major Wall Street investment banks.  He serves as the company’s CTO.

Crypto Link: An Interesting Approach

According to company literature, the Revolut app allows customers to open a current account in under a minute, and includes a prepaid contactless MasterCard debit card.  So far there is nothing unusual about Revolut. But wait, there’s more.

The firm launched personal international bank account numbers (IBANs) across Europe just recently, and plans to integrate virtual currencies like bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin in the future.  This includes plans to add a wealth of new services in the coming months from the integration of cryptocurrency to pay-as-you-go travel insurance at the tap of a button.

Even before this gets accomplished, Revolut offers a currency exchange with 25 different currencies and a peer-to-peer payments service.  As Storonsky tells his story, “ . . . what we are demonstrating goes beyond banking.”

The one question investors are raising is how all these wonderful free services will be monetized.  An announcement this week should provide at least some answers.

CNP Fraud Prevention

Revolut has a new product aimed at tackling online card fraud. The mobile-only bank unveiled a virtual card that wipes a user’s card details and introduces new details each time they make a payment.

When people make an online payment, they enter card details and most often online retailers hold onto the data. This is where fraudsters have a field day.

In the trade it is known as Card Not Present (CNP) fraud.  As online shopping has increased steadily, CNP fraud has risen exponentially – something like 50% annually.

What happens is, every time you make a transaction, Revolut software deletes the card details so it’s impossible to make any transaction after that.  Just in case you were wondering, all the data remains in the browser of the customer. So the quality of customer service is not sacrificed.

Full Disclosure  

Revolut is not your typical ICO (i.e., all whitepaper and no product).  It is not fueled by any cryptocurrency or token. I first came across Revolut following their VC round last year and was impressed with the valuation, background of the founders and the business model.  I have no vested interest in the company. Someday the VC will want to cash out most likely through an IPO. So Revolut is a name you will want to keep track of.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.4 stars on average, based on 76 rated postsJames Waggoner is a veteran Wall Street analyst and hedge fund manager who has spent the past few years researching the fintech possibilities of cryptocurrencies. He has a special passion for writing about the future of crypto.




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